Tuesday, September 27, 2016


JFK+50:  Volume 5, No. 2081


Hempstead, New York (JFK+50) Last night, September 26, 2016, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump squared off in their first debate of the presidential campaign of 2016.  Fifty-six years ago last night,  John Kennedy and Richard Nixon faced each other in not only the first debate of the presidential campaign of 1960 but also the first such debate in American history. 

Which of the two "first" debates was the most significant?

While this was the first debate between Hillary and Donald, it was far from the first time prospective voters have had the opportunity to see them on television and hear their views.  In fact, that's about all we have heard on cable news TV since the primaries began.

In 1960, Mr. Nixon was much better known nationally than Mr. Kennedy.  He was completing two terms as Vice-President of the United States.  He was the clear favorite to be swept into the White House on the coattails of one of the most popular Chief Executives in US History, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The first debate of 1960 gave JFK not only an opportunity to be seen and heard nationally, it also gave him a chance to demonstrate his ability to stand toe-to-toe with the Vice-President.  It also afforded him the platform to state clearly that he believed the United Sates was 'standing still.'  He said that 'as an American' he was not satisfied with the progress that was being made in the nation.  

JFK added....

"This is a great country, but I think it could be a greater country, and this is a powerful country, but I think it could be more powerful.  I think it is time America started moving again."

According to the Mary Ferrell Foundation website, the first 1960 televised debate has been "widely credited with erasing...Nixon's lead over John F. Kennedy" because of JFK's better physical appearance on television and because the young Democrat talked directly to the audience rather than his opponent.

Last night's debate between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump was expected to draw more than 100 million viewers.  The first Kennedy-Nixon debate drew 70 million.  

It was fairly obvious back in 1960 that JFK had won the first debate and 56 years later the pundits are mostly in agreement that Mrs. Clinton won the debate last night, but there are more debates to be held and many experts say that in today's polarized political climate, the debates are unlikely to sway many voters.

Therefore, it is our opinion that it was the first debate of the presidential election of 1960 which is the most significant.


"Kennedy-Nixon Debates," Mary Ferrell Foundation,

Kennedy-Nixon Debate
Chicago, Illinois
September 26, 1960